Meghan McGowan will graduate from on Saturday with the special distinction of achieving top academic rankings in his class. She has been named valedictorian.
The 17-year-old high school senior will be attending Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., where she plans on majoring in either biology or chemistry, with a concentration in biochemistry.
Meghan has earned top grades and been an active member of the school and the community. She has been a member of the volunteer youth group, the Yorktown Leos Club, since 2008, and is currently its president. Meghan is also the president of the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club and she is the varsity captain of the high school softball team.
She has received a number of awards including the Westchester County Milly Kibrick Youth Recognition Award, Superintendent’s Award for Academics and the Havard-Radcliffe Book Award.
Patch interviewed the student to get her take on her high school experience and plans for the future.
Patch: Did you imagine you'd be named top student – was this your goal?
Meghan McGowan: I really did not think I would be. I don’t think my goal was ever to be valedictorian. My goal was honestly just to do everything as best as I could, because I’m most disappointed with myself when I know I could have done better.
Patch: Was there a particular class or academic experience that changed you?
McGowan: All of the science classes I took had a huge influence on me. When I was younger, I didn’t like math or science at all, then I got to high school and it completely changed. All of my science teachers have been great. Mrs. Donahue, Ms. Ganz, and Mr. Lillis all taught the science courses in a way that made me realize how much I love the subject, and I want to pursue it in college.
Patch: In your opinion, is there anything you'd like to see the school district do differently?
McGowan: I had a great experience in Lakeland and I don’t think there is much I would change. The biggest trouble I had at Lakeland was with scheduling; unfortunately it was hard for me to fit all the electives and other courses that I wanted to into my schedule.
Patch: What's your dream job of the future?
McGowan: Right now I don’t have a set plan for the future. I definitely want to do something related to science, and lately I’ve been debating between physical therapy and pediatrics.
Patch: What will you miss when you graduate high school?
McGowan: I’m going to miss the people the most. I will miss getting to see my friends, classmates, and teachers every day.
Patch: What was your experience at Lakeland High School like?
McGowan: My experience at Lakeland has been great. Not only have I become friends with great people, but I have had amazing teachers. I honestly do not think there is one teacher that I did not learn from and enjoy their class. Furthermore, over my four years I always felt like there was a chance for me to get involved in something. We have so many clubs, sports, and other activities at Lakeland that I think it would be really hard not to find something that interested you.
Patch: Please share a funny or embarrassing story about your high school experience?
McGowan: Over the past four years I’ve been given a few nicknames, but my favorite has to have come from my AP Chemistry class. I don’t really remember what we were talking about, but somehow my teacher jokingly called me a felon, and it stuck. For the whole year we all joked about how I was “the felon.” If people look at how some people from the class signed my yearbook they would probably be very confused.
Patch: What advice will you give LHS juniors?
McGowan: Enjoy senior year- it goes by quick! Make sure you keep up with all your schoolwork and college applications because the deadlines are a lot closer than you think, and colleges still do look at your grades, but enjoy your last year. Whether it’s going to the Homecoming game, or joining a new club, take advantage of all the opportunities at school, because you will be graduating before you know it.
Patch: What are some objectives of your valedictory speech? What message do you hope to send at graduation?
McGowan: I want to leave everyone with a positive message at graduation, and hopefully I can offer a little bit of advice for the future.
Patch: Four fun, quick questions. Ready? What's on your iPod, what's your favorite late-night snack, your favorite book and what comfort item will you bring from home to college?
McGowan: There is a lot of country music on my iPod, but then I also have everything from the Rolling Stones to Katy Perry. My favorite late-night snack is definitely ice cream. I don’t think I could pick just one book, but I loved The Descendents, Pride and Prejudice, and The Hunger Games series. I plan on bringing a lot of photos with me to college!